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Spain briefly closes part of its airspace as Chinese missile waste flies over

Spain briefly closed airspace over the northeastern region of Catalonia and three other regions on Friday.

Spain briefly closed airspace over Catalonia’s northeastern region and three other regions on Friday as remnants of a Chinese missile were expected to pass, emergency services in Catalonia said Friday.

“Due to the risk associated with the passage of the space object CZ-5B through Spanish airspace, flights in Catalonia and other communities are completely restricted from 09:38 AM to 10:18 AM,” the service reports on its Twitter account. . .

The Long March 5B (CZ-5B), China’s most powerful rocket, was launched from southern China on October 31 to deliver the last module of the Chinese space station currently under construction.

As gravity pulls the rocket back toward Earth, most of it is expected to burn up on reentry, although there are concerns that large chunks may survive.

The European Union’s Space Surveillance and Tracking Service said the debris would most likely re-enter Earth’s atmosphere in the mid-Atlantic and likely land in the sea, but also warned that northern Spain and Portugal and Southern Italy were also within the missile’s potential trajectory.

“The statistical probability of a ground impact in populated areas is low,” the EUSST said. “However, these predictions come with uncertainties, and a better estimate will only be possible near the return.”

It was the fourth flight of the Long March 5B since its initial launch in May 2020.

On the first deployment, fragments of the missile landed on Côte d’Ivoire, damaging several buildings in that West African country, though no injuries were reported.

Debris from the second flight landed harmlessly in the Indian Ocean, while remains from the third fell into the Sulu Sea in the Philippines.

The return of the missile into the atmosphere is a common international practice, Zhao Lijian, a spokesman for China’s foreign ministry, said at a regular briefing on Friday when asked whether China had taken steps to mitigate the risks.

“Obviously, the type of missile you mentioned uses special technology designed so that the vast majority of components that will be destroyed by ablation during reentry, and that the potential for damage to aviation activities and the ground is extremely low.” is,” Zhao said.

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